Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING INCENTIVIZED BENEFITS IN A BROADBAND GATEWAY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Aspects of a method and system for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway are provided. In this regard, credits may be added to a subscriber account associated with a broadband gateway based on input provided by a user of an electronic device in communication with the broadband gateway, and it may be determined whether to provide services and/or content via the broadband gateway based on a number of credits in the subscriber account. The input may comprise, for example, feedback regarding content consumed via the broadband gateway, and responses to surveys, polls, or questionnaires presented via the broadband gateway. The broadband gateway may be operable to handle a plurality of physical layer connections to a corresponding plurality of network access service providers. The broadband gateway may be operable to communicate the user input to a provider associated with the subscriber account via one or more of the physical layer connections.



Inventors:
Lundgren, David (Mill Valley, CA, US)
Karaoguz, Jeyhan (Irvine, CA, US)
Chen, Xuemin (Sherman) (San Diego, CA, US)
Diab, Wael William (San Francisco, CA, US)
Garrett, David (Tustin, CA, US)
Prodan, Rich (Niwot, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/982236
Publication Date:
12/08/2011
Filing Date:
12/30/2010
Assignee:
LUNDGREN DAVID
KARAOGUZ JEYHAN
CHEN XUEMIN (SHERMAN)
DIAB WAEL WILLIAM
GARRETT DAVID
PRODAN RICH
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06Q30/00; H04L47/2491; H04L47/80
View Patent Images:



Other References:
Hilton HHonors Terms and Service, 2008
Hilton Honors (previously cited)
Primary Examiner:
REINHARDT, RICHARD G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Foley & Lardner LLP/ Broadcom Corporation (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for networking, the method comprising: in a broadband gateway that enables communication with a plurality of electronic devices, wherein said broadband gateway is operable to handle at least one physical layer connection to at least one corresponding network access service provider: adding credits to a subscriber account associated with a broadband gateway based on input provided by a user of one of said plurality of electronic devices, wherein said input comprises one or both of: feedback regarding content consumed via said broadband gateway; and responses to surveys, polls, or questionnaires presented to said user via the broadband gateway; and determining whether to provide services and/or content via said broadband gateway based on a number of said credits in said subscriber account.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein said broadband gateway is operable to: handle a plurality of physical layer connections to a corresponding plurality of network access service providers; and communicate said user input to a provider associated with said subscriber account via one or more of said physical layer connections.

3. The method according to claim 1, wherein said user input is provided via a graphical user interface generated by said broadband gateway.

4. The method according to claim 3, comprising prompting said user, via said graphical user interface, for said feedback during or following consumption of said content consumed via said broadband gateway.

5. The method according to claim 3, wherein said graphical user interface enables said user to view credit activity of said subscriber account.

6. The method according to claim 3, comprising: displaying, via said graphical user interface, a list of content for earning credits; and enabling, via said graphical user interface, said user to select from said list.

7. The method according to claim 1, comprising decreasing a tier of service provided via said broadband gateway in instances that said number of credits is below a certain number.

8. The method according to claim 1, comprising increasing a tier of service provided via said broadband gateway in instances that said number of credits is above a certain number.

9. The method according to claim 1, wherein said surveys, polls, or questionnaires collect information that is specific to a geographic location in which said gateway resides or a demographic group to which said user of said gateway belongs.

10. The method according to claim 1, wherein said surveys, polls, or questionnaires collect demographic information.

11. A system for networking, the system comprising: one or more circuits for use in a broadband gateway that enables communication with a plurality of electronic devices, said one or more circuits being operable to: add credits to a subscriber account associated with a broadband gateway based on input provided by a user of one of said plurality of electronic devices, wherein said input comprises one or both of: feedback regarding content consumed via said broadband gateway; and responses to surveys, polls, or questionnaires presented to said user via the broadband gateway; and determine whether to provide services and/or content via said broadband gateway based on a number of said credits in said subscriber account.

12. The system according to claim 11, wherein said one or more circuits and/or one or more processors are operable to: handle a plurality of physical layer connections to a corresponding plurality of network access service providers; and communicate said user input to a provider associated with said subscriber account via one or more of said physical layer connections.

13. The system according to claim 11, wherein said user input is provided via a graphical user interface generated by said broadband gateway.

14. The system according to claim 13, wherein said user is prompted, via said graphical user interface, for said feedback during or following consumption of said content consumed via said broadband gateway.

15. The system according to claim 13, wherein said graphical user interface enables said user to view credit activity of said subscriber account.

16. The system according to claim 13, wherein said graphical user interface: displays a list of content for earning credits; and enables said user to select from said list.

17. The system according to claim 11, wherein said one or more circuits and/or one or more processors are operable to decrease a tier of service provided via said broadband gateway in instances that said number of credits is below a certain number.

18. The system according to claim 11, wherein said one or more circuits and/or one or more processors are operable to increase a tier of service provided via said broadband gateway in instances that said number of credits is above a certain number.

19. The system according to claim 11, wherein said surveys, polls, or questionnaires collect information that is specific to a geographic location in which said gateway resides or a demographic group to which said user of said gateway belongs.

20. The system according to claim 11, wherein said surveys, polls, or questionnaires collect demographic information.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This patent application makes reference to, claims priority to and claims benefit from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/351,696 filed on Jun. 4, 2010.

The above stated application is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

This application also makes reference to

U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23397US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23398US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23399US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23400US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23401US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23402US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23403US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23404US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23405US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23406US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23407US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23408US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23409US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23410US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23411US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23412US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23413US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23414US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23415US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23416US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23417US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23418US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23419US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23420US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23421US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23422US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23423US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23424US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23425US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23426US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23427US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23428US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23429US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23430US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23431US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23432US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23433US02) filed on even date herewith;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23434US02) filed on even date herewith; and
U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 23435US02) filed on even date herewith.

Each of the above stated applications is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Certain embodiments of the invention relate to a broadband gateway. More specifically, certain embodiments of the invention relate to a method and system for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

With the continuous growth of digital television or broadcast multimedia, and/or broadband access, which may be used in conjunction with online businesses, social networks, and/or other online services and applications, users may desire having access to a larger number of providers and/or a broader range of content in a manner that is flexible and/or suits the users' lifestyles. Most users connect to the Internet using web browsers running on personal computers (PCs). Furthermore, most households may have one or more televisions that may be used to view television and/or multimedia broadcasts. Television broadcasts may include terrestrial TV, Cable-Television (CATV), satellite TV and/or Internet Protocol television (IPTV) based broadcasts. To ensure against unauthorized reception and/or use of TV and/or multimedia broadcast, service providers may require use of dedicated set-top boxes (STBs) that may be used to encrypt broadcast signals communicated from the service providers to generate suitable video and/or audio streams that may be played via televisions and/or other display/playback devices in the household. Furthermore, STBs and/or TVs may support Internet access. Thus, rather than using a computer to access the Internet, a user may find it more convenient to use the flat screen televisions and/or monitors in homes for the same purpose. To do so, for example, an STB connected to a flat screen television may be provided with web browsing software and protocols, and Internet connectivity, which may enable the user to easily access the Internet or check their electronic mail (email), for example, from a convenient and comfortable location such as their living room.

Further limitations and disadvantages of conventional and traditional approaches will become apparent to one of skill in the art, through comparison of such systems with some aspects of the present invention as set forth in the remainder of the present application with reference to the drawings.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A system and/or method is provided for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway, substantially as illustrated by and/or described in connection with at least one of the figures, as set forth more completely in the claims.

These and other advantages, aspects and novel features of the present invention, as well as details of an illustrated embodiment thereof, will be more fully understood from the following description and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary communication system that comprises a home network serviced by a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates an example of a graphical user interface (GUI) of a broadband gateway for managing rewards credits, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4A is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for providing feedback on content consumed via the gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4B is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for providing feedback on content consumed via the gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5A is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for managing consumption of content to earn rewards via a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5B is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for filling out questionnaires via a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for account management based on credits earned via interacting with a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Certain embodiments of the invention may be found in a method and system for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway. In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, credits may be added to a subscriber account associated with a broadband gateway based on input provided by a user of an electronic device that communicates with the broadband gateway. A determination may be made as to whether to provide services and/or content via the broadband gateway based on a number of credits in the subscriber account. The input may comprise, for example, one or both of feedback regarding content consumed via the broadband gateway, and responses to surveys, polls, or questionnaires presented to the user via the broadband gateway. The broadband gateway may be operable to handle a plurality of physical layer connections to a corresponding plurality of network access service providers. The broadband gateway may be operable to communicate the user input to a provider associated with the subscriber account via one or more of the physical layer connections. The user input may be provided via a graphical user interface generated by the broadband gateway. The user may be prompted, via the graphical user interface, for the feedback during or following consumption of the content consumed via the broadband gateway. The graphical user interface may enable the user to view credit activity of the subscriber account. The graphical user interface may display a list of content for earning credits, and may enable the user to select from the list. A tier of service provided via the broadband gateway may be downgraded in instances that the number of credits is below a certain number. A tier of service provided via the broadband gateway may be upgraded in instances that the number of credits is above a certain number. The surveys, polls, or questionnaires may collect information that is specific to a geographic location, demographic group or other classification in which the gateway resides. The surveys, polls, or questionnaires may collect demographic information.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary communication system that comprises a home network serviced by a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a home network 100a, a plurality of distribution networks 110, a plurality of service providers 120, and a plurality of content providers 130. The home network 100A may be serviced by a broadband gateway 102. Also shown in FIG. 1 are additional home networks 100b, . . . , 100n, and an emergency services provider network 140. Each of the home networks 100b, . . . , 100n may also be serviced by a broadband gateway 102.

The service providers 120 may comprise various entities which may provide various services to the devices 104 via the gateway 102 and/or to the gateway 102 itself. Some of the service providers 120 may comprise network access service providers which provide physical layer connections to the gateway 102. Such physical layer connections may then be utilized to access, and/or may be part of, one or more of the distribution networks 110. In this regard, “network access service provider” as utilized herein, is distinguished from the more generic term “service provider” which may encompass services other than providing physical layer access to a network. Cable television providers, plain old telephone service (POTS) providers, digital subscriber line (DSL) providers, cellular providers, WiMAX providers, and satellite providers are examples of network access service providers.

The content providers 130 may generate, capture, and/or package content, such as multimedia content, that may be distributed to end-users. The content may comprise, for example, audio, video, e-book, gaming, and/or other content. The content may be, for example, downloadable and/or streaming, rented and/or purchased. In some instances, a content provider and a service provider may be separate. In some instances, a single provider may provide both content and services. For example, an entity that functions as a network access service provider may also provide content and/or services other than network access and, thus, that entity may also be accurately referred to as a “content provider” and/or a “service provider.” Content and/or services that are provided by a content provider 130 and/or a service provider 120 may be provided to the gateway 102 via a physical connection provided by a network access service provider 120.

The plurality of distribution networks 110 may comprise one or more networks that may be operable to enable wireless, optical, and/or wired communication among a plurality of entities based on one or more networking and/or communication infrastructures. In this regard, the plurality of distribution networks 110 may be utilized to enable distributing multimedia content generated by the content providers 130, directly and/or via the service providers 120, to end-users. The network connectivity available via the plurality of distribution networks 110 may be based on one or more communication standards and/or protocols. The plurality of distribution networks 110 may comprise, for example, the Internet 110a, a CATV network 110b, a satellite television (TV) network 110c, a wireless local area network/wide area network (LAN/WAN) 110d, and/or a cellular network 110e.

The Internet 110a may comprise a system of interconnected networks to enable exchange of data between a plurality of nodes, based on one or more networking standards, including, for example, the Internet Protocol (IP). For example, the Internet 110a may enable connectivity among a plurality of private and public, academic, business, and/or government nodes and/or networks. The physical connectivity may be provided in the Internet 110a via, for example, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless interfaces, and/or other protocols and/or standards-based interfaces. The transport functionality may be performed in the Internet 110a based on, for example, one or more protocols, such as the Transmission Control Protocol/IP (TCP/IP), for example. The CATV network 110b may comprise suitable distribution nodes, systems, and/or subnetworks that may enable forwarding of communication between CATV providers and a plurality of cable-TV consumers. For example, the CATV network 110b may comprise a network of fiber optics and/or coaxial cables for use in CATV broadcasts. The satellite TV network 110c may comprise suitable distribution nodes, systems, and/or subnetworks that may enable communication of satellite TV broadcast by satellite TV providers to a plurality of consumers. For example, the satellite network 110c may comprise a plurality of orbiting satellite nodes and/or one or more terrestrial centers in a satellite-TV system.

The LAN/WAN network 110d may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, interfaces, and/or code that may be operable to enable implementation of one or more wired and/or wireless LAN or WAN standards and/or protocols. Exemplary WAN technologies comprise, for example, WiMAX-based networks. Exemplary LAN technologies may comprise, for example, those based on IEEE 802.11 standards, including, for example, WiFi-based networks. The cellular network 110e may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, interfaces and/or code that may be operable to enable communication via one or more cellular technologies. Exemplary cellular technologies may comprise Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), wideband CDMA (WCDMA), CDMA1000, High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution (EDGE), and/or Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS). The cellular network 110e may comprise, for example, a plurality of control and/or switching nodes, and a plurality of base stations that enable transmission and/or reception of cellular based communications between the cellular network 110e and cellular capable devices.

The home network 100a may correspond to a location that may comprise a plurality of devices 104 which may be serviced and/or managed by the broadband gateway 102. In this regard, the location may be a residence (e.g., home, apartment), a small business, a school, a library, and/or other like settings in which users may want to obtain access to service and/or to content provider networks. The broadband gateway 102 may be utilized in the home network 100a to provide connectivity between the home network 100a and the service providers 120 (and/or the content providers 130) via the distribution networks 110.

The broadband gateway 102 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, interfaces, and/or code that may be operable to provide connectivity between one or more devices in a home network, such as the home network 100a, and a plurality of external networks. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may handle a plurality of broadband physical layer connections 108 to the distribution networks 110. The broadband physical layer connections 108 may comprise wired, optical, and/or wireless connections between the broadband gateway 102 and the distribution networks 110. The broadband gateway 102 may operate as an interface device that may allow one or more service and/or content providers to interact with various devices in the home network. In this regard, the broadband gateway 102 may be operable to perform and/or provide various services that may pertain to enabling and/or facilitating reception of content from one or more content providers, wherein the content may be delivered through one or more services providers. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may be operable to perform such operations as network access related processing (e.g., PHY/MAC, transport layer processing), encryption and/or decryption, user and/or account authentication, and/or at least some of video and/or audio processing operations that may be needed for consumption of multimedia content. The broadband gateway 102 may communicate with various devices in the home network 100, using wired and/or wireless communication links.

A single gateway 102 may be operable to handle multiple physical layer (i.e., layer 1 of the open-systems interconnection model (OSI)) connections 108 to multiple ones, or portions, of the distribution networks 110, where different ones or portions of the distribution network(s) 110 are owned, operated, leased, or otherwise associated with different network access service providers 120. For example, a first network access service provider 120 may provide network access to the gateway 102 via a DSL connection over twisted-pair cabling, and a second network access service provider 120 may provide network access to the gateway 102 via a cable television connection over coaxial cabling. In some instances, the gateway 102 may be operable to concurrently communicate over multiple physical layer connections 108 provided by multiple network access service providers 120.

The broadband gateway 102 may also be operable to provide and/or support various other, non-content related services in the home network 100. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may be operable to provide energy management in the home network 100a, by controlling and/or adjusting configuration of one or more devices in the home network to reduce power consumption for example.

Devices serviced by, and/or connected with the broadband gateway 102 may comprise content consuming devices and/or other, non-content consuming household or home devices that may be operable to interact with the broadband gateway 102. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may service, and/or may communicate with a plurality of home devices 104a-104j in the home network 100a. The devices 104a-104j may each be referred to as a communication device or an electronic device. The home devices may comprise, for example, one or more of a television 104a, a laptop computer 104b, a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector, and/or a security alarm 104c, a computer and/or server 104d, a mobile phone 104e, a speaker 104f, an AM/FM radio 104g, a phone 104h, an appliance 104i (e.g., refrigerator), and a digital video recorder (DVR) or personal video recorder (PVR) 104j. The broadband gateway 102 may interact with each of the home devices 104a-104j via links 106a-106j, which may be supported by the broadband gateway 102 and the corresponding home device. For example, the link 106a between the broadband gateway 102 and the television 104a may comprise a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable. The link 106b may comprise, for example, a wired Ethernet link, a wireless Ethernet link, a Universal Serial Bus (USB) link, or an IEEE 1394 link. The link 106c may comprise, for example, a two-wire link or a wireless link. The link 106d may comprise, for example, a wired Ethernet link, a wireless Ethernet link, a USB link, or an IEEE 1394 link. The link 106e may comprise, for example, a wireless Ethernet link, a USB link, or a cellular link. The link 106f may comprise speaker wire and/or a wireless link. The link 106g may comprise, for example, AM and/or FM radio transmissions broadcast received using the broadband gateway 102. The link 106h may comprise, for example, a phone line. The link 106i may comprise, for example, a wired or wireless Ethernet link. The link 106j may comprise, for example, a wired or a wireless link.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a plurality of home networks 100b, 100n, may also be connected to the distribution networks 110. These home networks 100b, 100n may operate in substantially the same manner as the home network 100a. By having multiple home networks connected to the distribution networks 110, various applications, such as peer-to-peer communication and/or data aggregation operations may be possible by utilizing the broadband gateways 102 in the home networks.

In operation, one or more of the service providers 120 and/or one or more of the content providers 130 may provide subscription-based services. As utilized herein, “subscription-based” services include services for which a “subscriber” pre-pays for a specific term, for a specific amount of data, etc. In various embodiments of the invention, a subscriber may earn credits based on their interactions with the gateway 102 and those credits may be applied to the subscriber's account(s) with one or more of the service providers 120 and/or one or more of the content providers 130. The interactions with the gateway 102 may comprise, for example, consuming particular content, inputting feedback regarding content, and inputting responses to questionnaires, surveys, and/or polls.

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, at the end of a term, for example, a month, the subscriber's tier of service, or subscription “package,” for the next term may be determined based on the credits earned during the preceding term. For example, X credits earned may result in the subscriber's account being upgraded to a higher tier/package for the next term, between X and Y credits may result in the same tier/package as the previous term, and below Y credits may result in a lower tier/package for the next term. If there is not a lower tier/package, the subscriber may be asked to pay a particular dollar amount or have services and/or content suspended.

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, earned credits may enable a subscriber to access premium and/or enhanced services and/or content. For example, earning X credits during a term may result in the subscriber being granted a free video on demand, or granted a free month of a premium network.

Input provided by subscribers via gateways 102 may be utilized, for example, to determine local conditions and/or phenomena such as weather conditions. Input provided by subscribers via gateways 102 may be utilized, for example, to determine demographic information. Input provided by subscribers via gateways 102 may be utilized, for example, to determine ratings of content. Such ratings may, for example, be utilized to determine pricing levels for advertising during particular content.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 2, the broadband gateway 102 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, code, and/or interfaces that may be operable to provide connectivity between one or more networks, such as the distribution networks 110 shown in FIG. 1, for example, and one or more devices in a home network, such as the home devices 104a-104j in the home network 100a shown in FIG. 1. In this regard, the broadband gateway 102 may operate as an interface device that allows one or more devices in the home network to access one or more networks, and to access various services and/or content via those one or more networks. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to enable interaction between the plurality of service providers 120 and/or the plurality of content providers 130, and the home devices 104a-104j.

The broadband gateway 102 may communicate with the various devices via a home network that may comprise wired, optical, and/or wireless communication links, such as the home network 100a. In this regard, the broadband gateway 102 may comprise suitable hardware and/or software to provide some or all of the functions and/or operations of one or more of a modem, a router, and a switch. The modem functions and/or operations may be those of a digital subscribed line (DSL) modem, a cable modem, and/or a wireless cable modem, for example. The router functions and/or operations may be those of a wireless router, for example. The switch functions and/or operations may be those of a network switch, or a local area network (LAN) switch, for example. In some instances, the broadband gateway 102 may communicate with the various devices in the home via more than one home network.

The broadband gateway 102 may comprise one or more modules. Each of these modules may comprise hardware, software, or a combination thereof that may be utilized to perform various operations associated with the broadband gateway 102. In an embodiment of the invention, the broadband gateway 102 may comprise a provider interface module 202, a processor module 204, a memory module 206, and a client network interface module 208. In some instances, the broadband gateway 102 may be such that the various modules listed above may be distributed over multiple devices. Moreover, the modules listed above are provided by way of illustration and not of limitation. Other configurations and/or architectures of the broadband gateway 102 may also be implemented. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may be a virtual gateway that is setup in a network by utilizing virtual machines (VMs) and/or next-generation (NG) data centers.

The provider interface module 202 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, code, and/or interfaces that may be operable to receive data from and/or send data to one or more service/content providers via one or more physical layer connections 108 to one or more network access service providers. In this regard, each of the physical layer connections 1081-108J may connect the gateway 102 to a different network access service provider. Each of the physical layer connections 108 may comprise a wired, optical, or wireless connection. Each of the physical layer connections 108 may utilize different physical media and/or different physical layer protocols. For example, the connection 1081 may comprise a DSL over twisted-pair connection and the connection 108J may comprise a CATV over coaxial cable connection.

The processor module 204 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, code, and/or interfaces that may be operable to process data received from the service/content providers and/or data received from one or more devices 104 in the home. Data from one or more devices 104 may comprise user input such as feedback regarding consumed content and responses to questionnaires, surveys, and polls. Data received from the service/content providers via one or more the physical layer connections 1081-108J may be processed to make it suitable for communication to a device 104 and data from the one or more devices 104 may be processed to make it suitable for communication to the service/content providers via one or more the physical layer connections 1081-108J. In this regard, the processor module 124 may comprise one or more portions that are suitable to handle certain types of data such as video data and/or audio data, for example. The processor module 204 may also be operable to generate a graphical user interface (GUI) which may be manipulated via which a user may provide input. The GUI may be displayed as part of an OSD on a local device 104, such as a monitor or television, and may be manipulated via a remote control and/or other input device that communicates directly with the gateway 102. The GUI may be a web-based interface, and a user may interact with it via a computer and web browser. The GUI may be customized by, for example, a user of the gateway 102. The customization may be based on characteristics of the gateway 102, the device 104 coupled to the gateway, and the service and/or content providers associated with the gateway 102. The processors module 124 may utilize the memory 206 in performing its functions.

The memory module 206 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, code, and/or interfaces that may be operable to store data utilized in the operations of the broadband gateway 102. For example, the memory module 206 may be utilized to store configuration data, parameters, device information, tracking and/or monitoring information, security information, and intermediate processing data, for example. The memory module 206 may comprise storage media that may be integrated in the broadband gateway 102 and/or may be removable such as a removable storage device.

The client network interface module 208 may comprise suitable logic, circuitry, code, and/or interfaces, that may be operable to receive data from and/or send data to one or more devices in the home network. The client network interface module 208 may be operable to support multiple communication protocols, standards, and/or data transport technologies. In this regard, the client network interface module 208 may handle one or more physical layer connections to one or more devices 104. For example, the client network interface module 208 may comprise, one or more wired and/or wireless Ethernet interfaces, one or more analog and/or digital audio outputs, one or more audio/video interfaces such as such as HDMI and DisplayPort, one or more USB interfaces, one or more IEEE 1394, and/or one or more telephone jacks.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to provide energy management by varying the configuration of one or more devices in the home network. The broadband gateway 102 may collect and/or store energy-related information of the devices in the home network and/or of the links in the home network, and may utilize such information to control the operation of the home devices. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may utilize channel capacity flexibility and content coding options to minimize and/or optimize power utilization. The broadband gateway 102 may also configure and/or manage the configuration of the network between the broadband gateway 102 and one or more service/content providers based on the energy-related information associated with the devices in the home. For example, at least a portion of the distribution networks 100 may be configured and/or managed in this manner. The broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to display energy-related metrics, including consumption trends and/or costs, for example, and to display any available credits/rewards that may be redeemed by an account holder. In some instances, when a device in the home network is a certified device, such as a California efficient display, for example, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to provide that information to a service/content provider and obtain rewards/credits associated with the use of such certified devices. Moreover, overall network power consumption may be managed by sharing information among multiple interconnected broadband gateways.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to adapt and/or enable changes in a subscription model and/or in multimedia delivery characteristics based on the capabilities of the various devices in the home network. For example, high-definition video content may be delivered to certain type of devices, such as digital televisions (DTVs), while low-definition video content and/or text may be delivered to a different type of devices, such as personal mobile devices. In this regard, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to reduce bandwidth and/or power consumption in the home network. The broadband gateway 200 may also support and/or use multi-transport processing, which may be performed sequentially, in parallel, and/or utilizing distributed processing.

The gateway functionality associated with a user, such as security features, preferences, applications, electronic programming guides (EPGs), and user profile, for example, may be ported from the broadband gateway 102 to one or more other broadband gateways 102 in other locations. In some instances, a visitor may be allowed access to their content outside their service/content provider service area by, for example, classifying the access level for different users and/or by providing limited access to content. Moreover, the broadband gateway 102 may allow multiple user interface software structures by, for example, standardizing an interface to service/content providers and devices in the home network.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to broker and/or arbitrate with service/content providers the consumption of certain services, such as music and video, for example. In some instances, the broadband gateway 102 may perform content search, transport discovery, ranking, and/or sorting. These operations may be performed based on content quality, price, quality-of-service (QOS), and network protocols supported by the devices in the home network, such as service level agreements (SLAs), for example.

Various emergency-related services in the home network may be supported by the broadband gateway 102, including allowing first responders to provide alerts to a select group of users by accessing the broadband gateway 102 via secure links provided by the service/content providers. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may enable an emergency service provider, such as those associated with the emergency service provider network 140 described above in FIG. 1, to access one or more devices in the home network.

For peer-to-peer communication, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to allow enhanced content sharing in a service/content provider network. In this regard, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to construct a directory service for peer-to-peer connectivity with friends and family, for example. The broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to provide incentives to users who engage in peer-to-peer communication through, for example, the distribution networks 110. Moreover, the broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to match the content coding to the service type being consumed by the user and to make the necessary allocations through the network with respect to peer-to-peer or conventional Internet programming or broadcast programming.

The broadband gateway 102 may be utilized in connection with constrained network resources, such as time of day, traffic congestion, and the like, for example, to provide incentives for a user to accept a lower cost, lower quality of service that is dynamically configured for current network conditions. In some instances, the broadband gateway 102 may allow enhanced low latency service delivery to client devices in a home network.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to run or execute an agent to extract content, rating, copyright, language, privacy rules, and automatically add user-generated content, for example. Such agent may be run or executed in connection with the processor module 204 of the broadband gateway 102, for example. In some instances, the broadband gateway 102 may be operable to provide rating-related information or channel prediction to a service/content provider to assist with fast channel change.

Bandwidth optimization by, for example, placing future requests for bandwidth to a service/content provider and accepting the best timeslots provided in return may be enabled by the broadband gateway 102.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to combine and/or blend multiple contents for use as single content in the home network. Such combination may be performed in one or more of the modules of the broadband gateway 102. For example, the broadband gateway 102 may blend different video and audio contents for an event by accessing one or more service/content providers and providing automatic and/or manual content synchronization.

The protection, management, and/or tracking of confidential data, such as health and financial records, for example, by tagging the data may be provided by the broadband gateway 102. Only when a user authorizes the transfer of the confidential data will such data be stored and/or aggregated. The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to create a trusted rating mechanism for content. The broadband gateway 102 may be secure against external threats that may be downloaded from outside the home network and may provide a secure domain distribution in the home network. Automated and secured billing and payment services may also be provided by the broadband gateway 102.

The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to utilize client or home device profile information to select layered video service(s) and/or transmission. Such information may be stored, at least temporarily, in the memory module 206 of the broadband gateway 102. In some instances, the programming and/or enhanced video layers received by the broadband gateway 102 may be aggregated midstream by one or more network or routing nodes.

The broadband gateway 102 may support a reduction in the cost of unwatched content by using multi-tier billing for downloaded content, such as video content. The broadband gateway 102 may be utilized to provide a unified payment portal for collecting and/or aggregating charges from multiple service and/or content providers.

FIG. 3 illustrates an example of a graphical user interface (GUI) of a broadband gateway for managing rewards credits, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The GUI of FIG. 3 may, for example, be displayed as part of an on-screen menu accessible via a “menu” button of a remote control. The exemplary GUI may comprise frames 302, 304, 306, and 308.

The frame 302 may display past activity on the subscriber account. For example, frame 302 may display, for example, a list of content consumed, the date on which the content was consumed, and credits earned for consuming the content and/or providing feedback regarding the content. As another example, the frame 302 may display the name of surveys, polls, and questionnaires filled out by a user of a device 104, the date on which the survey/poll/questionnaire was responded to, and the credits earned for the response. Also, the frame 302 may display transactions for which credits were deducted from the account. For example, at the beginning of a new term, or upon consuming premium content, credits may be deducted from the account.

In various embodiments of the invention, in order to earn credits for consuming content, the service and/or content provider may require the person consuming the content to provide feedback on the content. Accordingly, the frame 304 may display a list of content that has been consumed via the gateway 102 but for which feedback has not been provided. In this regard, a user may be allowed to consume content and subsequently provide feedback later. Accordingly, the gateway 102 may keep track of which feedback is still pending and display a notification of such in the frame 304. In various embodiments of the invention, the user may be given a limited window of time to input feedback before the opportunity to earn credits for consuming the content expires. The frame 304 may comprise controls 320 that, upon selection by a user, may bring up window via which the user can enter the feedback for the corresponding content.

The frame 306 may display content available for consumption to earn credits. For example, the frame 306 may comprise a name and description of the content and controls 322 and 324. Selecting a control 322 may bring begin consumption of the corresponding content. Selecting a control 324 may bring up a window via which a user may schedule a day and time to consume the content.

The frame 308 may display surveys, polls, and/or questionnaires available for earning credits. Which surveys, polls, and/or questionnaires are available may depend on, for example, the geographic location of the gateway 102 and/or demographic group to which the user belongs. The frame 308 may also comprise controls 326. Selecting a control 326 may bring up a window via which a user can provide responses to the corresponding survey(s), poll(s), and/or questionnaire(s).

FIG. 4A is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for providing feedback on content consumed via the gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 4A, the exemplary steps may begin with step 402 in which a user of an electronic device 104 coupled to the gateway 102 may consume content via the gateway 102. In step 404, upon completing consumption of the content, the gateway 102 may prompt the user to provide feedback regarding the content. In step 406, the user may enter the feedback at that time or may defer entering the feedback until a later time. In instances that feedback is deferred, the exemplary steps may advance to step 410. In step 410, if the feedback is not provided within a determined amount of time, then the steps may advance to step 414 and the credits may not be earned. Returning to step 410, if the feedback is provided within the determined amount of time, then the exemplary steps may advance to step 412 and credits may be added to a subscriber account associated with the gateway 102. Returning to step 406, in instances that feedback is not deferred, then in step 408, the gateway 102 may display an interface that enables the user to input the feedback and the exemplary steps may advance to step 412.

FIG. 4B is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for providing feedback on content consumed via the gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 4B, the exemplary steps may begin with step 420, in which a gateway 102 is presenting content via a device 104. In step 422, the content may be paused and the gateway may prompt the user to provide input. In step 424, if the user does not take action in response to the prompt within a determined amount of time, then in step 428 the subscriber account associated with the gateway 102 may not be credited for consumption of the content. Returning to step 424, if the user does respond to the prompt within the determine amount of time, then in step 430 it may be determine whether the content is complete. If the content is complete then in steps 432 the subscriber account may be credited for consumption of the content. Returning to step 430, if the content is not complete, then the exemplary steps may return to step 420.

FIG. 5A is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for managing consumption of content to earn rewards via a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 5A, the exemplary steps may begin with step 502 in which a user of an electronic device 104, such as a television, coupled to the gateway 102, brings up a GUI of the gateway 102. For example, the user of the television presses a “menu” button on a remote control. In step 504, the GUI may display a list of content available for earning rewards. In step 506, the user may select content for viewing or schedules content for viewing at a later time. The selection may be performed using the remote control. In step 508, the user may consume the content and provide feedback on the content to earn credits. For example, the user may watch video content on the television and answer questions regarding the video via the GUI.

FIG. 5B is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for earning rewards credit for filling out questionnaires via a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 5B, the exemplary steps may begin with step 522 in which a user of an electronic device 104, such as a television, coupled to the gateway 102, brings up a GUI of the gateway 102. For example, the user of the television presses a “menu” button on a remote control. In step 524, the GUI may display a list of surveys, polls, and/or questionnaires that may be available for earning credits. In step 526, the user may select a survey/poll/questionnaire to participate in. In step 528, the user may respond to the survey/poll/questionnaire and receive credits upon completion of the survey/poll/questionnaire. For example, the user may respond to multiple-choice questions utilizing a television remote.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary steps for account management based on credits earned via interacting with a broadband gateway, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIG. 6, the exemplary steps may begin with step 602 in which a subscriber associated with the gateway 102 subscribes to content and/or services provided via the gateway 102. The provider(s) of the services and/or content may provide different subscription “packages,” or “tiers” of service, where each package/tier comprises a different combination of monetary cost per term and required credits earned per term. For example, a first cable package or tier may offer basic cable plus one premium channel for $50 per month and a second cable package may offer basic cable plus one premium channel for $40 per month as long as X credits per month are credited to the subscriber account. Different packages or tiers may also offer different services and/or content. For example, different packages or tiers offered by a cable television provider may comprise different channels. Similarly, different packages or tiers offered by an Internet provider may have different data rate limits. In step 604, upon the completion of a term of the subscription, it may be determined whether the earned enough credits were added to the account during the previous term to maintain the current package, or tier. In instances that sufficient credits have been earned, the exemplary steps may advance to step 612.

In step 612, it may be determined whether the number of credits earned during the previous term is sufficient to upgrade to a higher package or tier. In instances that sufficient credits were earned to upgrade, then in step 616 the subscriber account may be upgraded to a higher package or tier for the next term. In instances that enough credits to upgrade have not been received, or if the subscriber does not want to upgrade, the subscription may be renewed at the same tier/package for the next term.

Returning to step 604, if sufficient credits have not been earned to maintain the current package or tier, the exemplary steps may advance to step 606. In step 606, it may be determined whether where there is a lesser package or tier to which the subscriber account may be downgraded. In instances that the account is already at the lowest package or tier, then in step 608 the subscriber may be required to pay a monetary amount or have service and/or content suspended. In instances that the account is not already at the lowest package or tier, then in step 610, the account may be downgraded to a lower package or tier for the next term.

Various aspects of a method and system for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway are provided. In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, credits may be added to a subscriber account associated with a broadband gateway 102 based on input provided by a user of an electronic device 104 that communicates with the broadband gateway 102. It may be determined whether to provide services and/or content via the broadband gateway 102 based on a number of credits in the subscriber account. The input may comprise, for example, one or both of feedback regarding content consumed via the broadband gateway 102, and responses to surveys, polls, or questionnaires presented to the user via the broadband gateway 102. The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to handle a plurality of physical layer connections 108 to a corresponding plurality of network access service providers. The broadband gateway 102 may be operable to communicate the user input to a provider 120 and/or 130 associated with the subscriber account via one or more of the physical layer connections 108. The user input may be provided via a graphical user interface generated by the broadband gateway 102. The user may be prompted, via the graphical user interface, for the feedback during or following consumption of the content consumed via the broadband gateway 102. The graphical user interface may enable the user to view credit activity of the subscriber account. The graphical user interface may display a list of content for earning credits, and may enable the user to select from the list. A tier of service provided via the broadband gateway 102 may be downgraded in instances that the number of credits is below a certain number. A tier of service provided via the broadband gateway 102 may be upgraded in instances that the number of credits is above a certain number. The surveys, polls, or questionnaires may collect information that is specific to a geographic location in which the gateway 102 resides and/or a demographic group to which a user of the gateway 102 belongs. The surveys, polls, or questionnaires may collect demographic information.

Other embodiments of the invention may provide a non-transitory computer readable medium and/or storage medium, and/or a non-transitory machine readable medium and/or storage medium, having stored thereon, a machine code and/or a computer program having at least one code section executable by a machine and/or a computer, thereby causing the machine and/or computer to perform the steps as described herein for providing incentivized benefits in a broadband gateway.

Accordingly, the present invention may be realized in hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software. The present invention may be realized in a centralized fashion in at least one computer system, or in a distributed fashion where different elements are spread across several interconnected computer systems. Any kind of computer system or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein is suited. A typical combination of hardware and software may be a general-purpose computer system with a computer program that, when being loaded and executed, controls the computer system such that it carries out the methods described herein.

The present invention may also be embedded in a computer program product, which comprises all the features enabling the implementation of the methods described herein, and which when loaded in a computer system is able to carry out these methods. Computer program in the present context means any expression, in any language, code or notation, of a set of instructions intended to cause a system having an information processing capability to perform a particular function either directly or after either or both of the following: a) conversion to another language, code or notation; b) reproduction in a different material form.

While the present invention has been described with reference to certain embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the present invention without departing from its scope. Therefore, it is intended that the present invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed, but that the present invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.